It was an unlikely path forged by Ruben Wiki in the early 1990s, and now Siliva Havili hopes his journey following in the footsteps of the Raiders legend will also culminate in premiership success.
The year was 1993. As Wiki was enjoying his first of many fruitful preseasons in Canberra, Havili was born in Auckland and a childhood on the mean streets of Otara in the city's notorious south-east began.
Havili's was a religious family, his Dad is still a pastor in New Zealand, and that helped shield him from the gangland violence that for so long rippled underneath the surface of Otara.
When Havili graduated to secondary school, his parents sent him to Central Auckland to pursue his high school years which provided a safety buffer between him and the dangers of Otara.
"It was make or break, taking me out, especially at that age, you go through all the temptations of life as a teen - if you're hanging around the wrong crowd, especially in Otara, you're definitely going to head the wrong way," Havili said.
"I've seen that first hand. I've seen a lot of my mates, really good players, really talented, better players than myself. A lot of players from there have always had that mate that's better than them, more gifted, but got caught up in the wrong stuff.
"To leave Otara was probably the best decision. I wasn't around the schools based in Otara where a lot of gangs do their stuff."
The plan to change schools worked, Havili earned himself a contract with the New Zealand Warriors and ultimately landed at the Raiders where he's been for the past three seasons.
But not everyone in Otara is so lucky.
"I have friends that were really affiliated with gangs, I had neighbours that partied every day. I knew I didn't want to be one of them," Havili said.
"As a kid you want to maybe look up to some of them back then. Some young kids used to look up to gang members, they idolised them.
"You're happy to know them but you didn't want to take their actions. Some of them are real good, they looked after me, they knew when I was 15 I was in the Warriors system, they told me not to affiliate with certain guys."
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Twenty years earlier it was Wiki living in Otara, at a time when Havili said the violence was likely even worse than his own childhood.
He also survived - unsurprisingly, given he went on to become one of the toughest men to ever pull on a green jumper.
When the Raiders ventured into New Zealand in the early 1990s, keen to unearth the next batch of rugby league talent, Wiki was one of their discoveries.
That scouting mission also yielded John Lomax and the late Quentin Pongia and in 1994 the Kiwi trio were part of Canberra's third premiership, although Lomax missed the grand final through suspension.
Wiki went on to play 224 matches for the Raiders over 12 seasons, starting as an outside back and finishing up in the front row.
At the end of 2004 he moved back to Auckland, and played four more seasons for his home-town club before joining the Warriors' training staff.
That's where Havili struck up a strong relationship with the former Raider.
"Rubes is just a legend, he's a club legend here and he's a legend back in New Zealand too," Havili said.
"He's just a role model to everyone, especially coming from the same neighbourhood. Back in those days in Otara were probably the worst days, and he went through it all and created a pathway for us young kids.
"All the violence back home, if he could get through...and he was always based on hard work. Then he moved over here as a young kid to pursue a career.
"Having him as a trainer, he was always on top of us, he always had hard training for us. We used to get a rating after training, and if it wasn't a 10 out of 10 rating he'd make you keep training til you gave him a 10."
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Havili and his wife Loretta have now settled in the nation's capital.
They have two daughters - two-year-old Mausia, named after Havili's mother, and Elliora who was born on Tuesday in time for Friday's preliminary final against Melbourne.
Had she been born during the game, Havili jokes they would have named her Brisbane.
"Enjoying fatherhood is probably the best thing," Havili says as his grin widens, showing off two metal-capped teeth.
"As much mess they make, you enjoy cleaning it up because it's your daughter.
"My wife loves it here. Everyone says it's the best place in Australia to bring your kids up, and I can't argue with that.
"Canberra's not the busiest city so you get more time to spend with your family, and I know that for sure because I spend a lot of time with [them. They] get to see this journey that I'm going through.
"You can always look back in 20, 30 years time, you were there at the Raiders. Hopefully we can win it this year."
For that to happen, the Raiders must eliminate a Storm side playing in their sixth-straight preliminary final.
Havili has been named on the bench for the clash at Suncorp Stadium, but might still start at hooker as he did in last weekend's win over the Sydney Roosters.
That would pit him against Melbourne veteran Cameron Smith, who is widely tipped to hang up his boots at the end of this season after an astonishing 19 years in the NRL.
"He's the GOAT, I've always enjoyed watching him and I try to take as much as I can out of his game," Havili said.
"He's inspirational, not only to myself but I think to everyone that plays rugby league, the way he's played the game and what he's achieved.
"I remember as a young kid just watching this guy. He looks the same from ever since I started watching him, he hasn't grown or anything. Age is just a number to him and he's only getting better."
The match will be Havili's 69th in the NRL for the Raiders, which leaves him a mere 155 short of Wiki's impressive tally at the Green Machine.
"I'm loving my time here at the Raiders, and the culture they've built here I fit right in," Havili said. "All the big dogs in the team, they've made every new person feel welcome and that's one thing...I get to be who I am."